2023-03-31 Friday on Mount Lemmon

Broad-Billed Hummingbird - Cynanthus latirostris
I ascended Mount Lemmon on Thursday and spent the night. It was too early in the season for the great warbler show. On my descent on Friday, I stopped below the Molino Basin, and enjoyed a few minutes with Bell’s Vireos, Lesser Goldfinches, and Broad-Billed Hummingbirds.

I spent Thursday night on Mount Lemmon. I’d hoped to camp on Incinerator Ridge, where I’ve enjoyed warbler meetings in the past. I knew it was early for many of the birds that will migrate here to breed, but being in the neighborhood, I wanted to poke around. As I drove up the mountain from the town below, I stopped at several locations to investigate what birds might be hanging around. 

Molina Basin was my first stop, but the only obvious birds I could detect were Mockingbirds. I drove to the end of the road leading through the campsites, but the silence of the birds was deafening.

My next stop was the Hitchcock Campground. Where Molina had wide open sunny spaces, here in the deep canyon it was chilly. Like the Molina Basin, there wasn’t much in the way of bird activity, though I heard a twittering song from an unseen bird in the pine canopy. It may have been a Junco. Because there were folks camping under those trees, I didn’t fully investigate because I felt it would have been an intrusion.

From Hitchcock Camp, I continued up-slope to Incinerator Ridge Road. Unfortunately for me, I found the road’s gate locked. I’d passed a good-sized trailhead parking area with a clear view of the sky, a short distance just down slope, so I headed down to see if I might park there for the night. I found no signage prohibiting an overnight stay, so I parked as much out of the way as I could, and tested out my new satellite internet service (it was very good). The thermometer fell below freezing at night, but I was snug in my ‘Silver Cocoon’ (my RV).

When morning came, I returned to Incinerator Ridge Road and parked clear of the gate and hiked several hundred yards up the road. I was greeted immediately by a crew of ‘bright-eyed’ juncos. The only other birds my senses detected were calling robins and crying Spotted Towhees.

The trail I walked was littered with the refuse of fecal-brained and thoughtless humans. Plastic water bottles, paper coffee cups, empty plastic ice bags, and an assortment of items decorated the trail. On my way back to my RV, I collected as much garbage as I could, and took it away.

I continued exploring my way up-slope, with the Iron Door Restaurant on my radar. I stopped at a scenic-view pullout, where Steller’s Jays, robins and Spotted Towhees were the only birds I could detect.

After breakfast, I descended the mountain. While it was too early in the season for the great warbler show I enjoyed in April 2017, I stopped below the Molino Basin, and enjoyed a few minutes with more than a dozen singing Bell’s Vireos, a few Lesser Goldfinches, and a Broad-Billed Hummingbird.

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